Lilith’s Demons, Enszer’s third book, reimagines the infamous, ancient figure Lilith as a modern, empowered woman. Split into three parts, the book begins with poems from Lilith’s point of view, followed by a middle section narrated by her demons (all with their own unique name and personality), and finally, closing with a short section narrated by angels who are drawn to Lilith’s alluring power. Through the eyes of Lilith and her demons, Enszer crafts a beautiful and thought-provoking narrative of the modern issue of women’s oppression, and the punishment they receive.
It stands out as strange that Lilith, a powerful female figure, would require the suffering of women in order to live. However, Enszer creates a reason so effortlessly it is accepted immediately by the reader: “Lilith despises disloyalty/ within the tribe of women.” So simple, yet so powerful. Lilith is not punishing women for being women, as a patriarchal system does, rather she punishes women who betray other women, thus adding to the system of oppression.
Lilith’s Demons is a call to action to all women from Enszer herself: united, women possess the power of Lilith, strong, independent, brutal, yet still with a capacity for love and compassion. Lilith is powerful, yes, but she still displays a humanity that is usually absent from her legends. She speaks of her demons with a deeply felt adoration, saying “I name them / as they seep / from my body. Whispering their names, I bring them into being.” She is not a cold, heartless being, who names those that are born from her. She is a figure capable of love. An angel, “Senoy,” also describes Lilith of being capable of love affairs, even with angels: “She loves her and / Lilith loves Semangelof. The mother of demons. An angel. Queer pair.”
So Lilith’s Demons is not only a spectacular retelling of the ancient story of Lilith and her curse to bear one hundred demons every night. Lilith’s Demons is a plea, from one powerful woman to all women, to embrace their inner power, and to spread that power, along with compassion, among the “tribe” of women. Enszer inspires a sense of community within her readers, as having Lilith ever present, looming as a figure of the all-powerful woman and the brutality of the consequences women face when they turn against one another.